Saturday, August 20, 2011
Gunfire sparks panic in Torreon soccer stadium
Another level of instability was reached in Mexico this evening as the fans and players of a major professional sporting event of the highest level have been threatened with gunfire and a panic has ensued.
Thankfully no one was seriously hurt in the Territorio Santos Modelo stadium, argueably the most modern soccer stadium in Mexico and home of the Primer Division Santos Laguna Guerrilleros, or Warriors, one of the leagues more competitive clubs, when gunfire broke out during the 40th minute of play in a match this evening with the Monarcas of Morelia.
The game was suspended after the interruption of play as players and team staff fled to their dressing rooms and panicked fans left their seats and huddled behind cover on the pitch.
The incident was broadcast nationwide and in some U.S. markets as the game was being broadcast live on TV Azteca and ESPN Deportes.
Jesús Torres Charles, Coahuila State Attorney General announced that the gunfire occurred outside the stadium at approximately 7:45PM local time after a three vehicle convoy of gunmen crashed through an Army and local police checkpoint and outside the stadium and an exchange of gunfire and pursuit ensued.
One policeman was wounded in the shootout outside the stadium located in the outskirts of Torreon.
Torres Charles said that the authorities closed the doors of the stadium and established a security cordon around the facility.
Alejandro Irarragori, the club chairman, confirmed the gunfire originated from outside the stadium. Minutes after the gunfire and panic, Irarragori and the team captain and goalkeeper Osvaldo Sánchez tried to calm the fans from the center of the pitch.
However, many fans insist that the gunfire originated inside the stadium and a photograph was posted on Twitter that showed a bullet hole in the glass enclosure in the box seating area.
The Guerrilleros represent the tri-city Comarca Laguna region in northern Mexico, which include Torreon, Coahuila, and Ciudad Lerdo and Gomez Palacio in the adjoining state of Durango.
The Comarca region has been become one of the most violent and insecure in Mexico as Los Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel battle for control of organized crime and drug trafficking.
Hundreds of people have died in the Comarca this year, gangsters murdered in execution style murders or innicent civilians killed in crossfires or in robberies and kidnappings.
In July of last year 17 people were murdered and at least 18 were wounded in a massacre perpetrated by gunmen at a party in a country house, La Quinta Italia, in Torreon.
The massacre was linked to a death squad run by gangsters affiliated with the Sinaloa cartel that was composed of inmates from the Cereso state prison in Gomez Palacio who used the prison as a hideout.
Other mass homicides occurred in at least two Torreon bars in 2010.
Last year a Mexican professional baseball league game was interrupted during play by gunfire and grenade detonations outside of the stadium in the border city of Reynosa Tamaulipas.
The game between the Reynosa Broncos and the Monterrey Sultanes was suspended in the sixth inning to safeguard the fans and players.
However it should be noted that the level of play and importance of Mexico's Primera Divison and Liga Mexicana de Beisbol in national terms is akin to the difference between the NFL and the minor leage level of baseball in the U.S., with the incident at Torreon resulting in higher social impact in Mexico and internationally.